What is conflict management?

Conflict management is the process by which disputes are resolved, where negative outcomes are minimized and positive outcomes are prioritized.

These key management skills include using different strategies depending on the situation, negotiation and creative thinking. With a well-managed struggle, an organization is able to reduce interpersonal problems, increase customer satisfaction, and achieve better business results.

Conflict in the workplace does not automatically mean that certain employees are at fault, although in some cases this will be a problem. If you have employees who are skeptical of the situation and are making changes that they think are positive for the organization, it could indicate that a high level of staff is involved in your organization.

The paradox can also mean that employees are comfortable enough to challenge each other and their opinion is that their conflicts will even be resolved by the organization.

Conflict management, if done properly, also enhances the organization’s organizational learning through the questions asked through the process

Conflict management can be quick and easy if done at the right time. It is only when a conflict is left to manifest into a bigger problem, does the conflict management itself becomes a big issue and it can be very costly and time-consuming. Nipped in the bud any conflict can be resolved if intervention is precise, time-sensitive, and neutral.

Example: Dave a scuba diving instructor works for a nominal monthly salary and earns commissions for each diver he takes in the water. In the dive center, there are three guides / Dive Masters. They all work on the same employment terms as Dave. It has worked well for many years. The newest recruit, Jeff has been added to accommodate a new contract the company has from a large package deal holiday company, who promise many divers, on a daily basis. Some rivalry between the old and new guides is becoming a little more serious as the extra work has not come to fruition, and the old guides are losing dive commissions to the new guy. One added frustration for the team is, the new guy has been awarded the first diver of the morning to pay for his accommodation.

If the management had have taken the time to see what the situation was, they could have sat the two members of staff down and within a couple of minutes carried out a quick conflict management session, and they all shake hands with the new understanding of the situation. Left in its current state the conflict will manifest in one of two ways. The employees will end up fighting between themselves which can only result in the clients being affected by the negative attitude of the staff, or one will defect to the competition.

Conflict management is a valuable tool in any company’s arsenal of tools to fix things. The management needs to be aware of what is going on on the shop floor, if they do not act quickly in any conflict then the situation will only go one way. It will manifest and eventually, it will involve more people, the longer conflict management is delayed. If it escalates it can soon encompass the entire workforce and divide an entire staff team into two camps. This is then a logistical nightmare to solve even by using conflict management techniques. Conflict management will be costly, time-consuming, and harmful to the company if left too long.

Conflict management is easier the sooner it is used; staff members do not want a workplace to become a battleground, so they too would like the management to step in early on and solve the conflict. The last thing any manager needs, is a feud developing that will eventually devour the entire workforce. Act accordingly and swiftly as soon as a conflict arises. Be neutral and factual, there is no point in the management becoming involved in the conflict.

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